01/15 11:10 CST Georgia's Taylor keeps coaching, running through pregnancy
Georgia's Taylor keeps coaching, running through pregnancy
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) --- Joni Taylor gets intense on the sideline coaching the
Georgia Lady Bulldogs.
Her actions recently have been making her players nervous. It's understandable.
Taylor is coaching for two and she is due to give birth next month.
Taylor can laugh at the concerns because she said her doctor has not put any
restraints on her.
"Not at all," Taylor told The Associated Press on Monday when asked if doctors
have any medical reservations. "The fans do. I get emails every day. People
tell me to stop running, stop jumping, stop stomping."
There's little chance of that.
Taylor, 39, runs at least three times a week and clocked an 8-minute mile last
week. When she's not pregnant, she runs half-marathons. She's not about to sit
At the end of the Lady Bulldogs' tight win over then-No. 13 Tennessee on
Sunday, Taylor was fulling engaged. Her players seem to have one eye on the
clipboard and the other on their coach.
"Oh man. She was stomping and everything," guard Taja Cole Cole said. "She's
going to go into labor on the sideline soon!"
Taylor and her husband, WNBA Atlanta Dream assistant coach Darius Taylor, had
their first baby girl, Jaci, about a week before the 2016-17 season. Joni said
she is enjoying another smooth pregnancy.
"God has shown me tremendous favor," Taylor said. "My pregnancies both have
been very smooth. I had a very easy pregnancy with Jaci and a very easy
delivery. I've had a very smooth pregnancy so far, the second time around. That
has enabled me to have good energy, to be available for this program, our young
ladies, our recruits."
Taylor said she is "still waking up at 4 and 5 o'clock" for workouts and has
had no morning sickness.
"That has allowed me to operate in a pretty normal way," she said.
Taylor's other baby is the Georgia women's program.
She is in her fourth season as only the team's second full-time coach. Andy
Landers' 36-year stint as coach included five Final Four appearances, 20 Sweet
16s and seven Southeastern Conference regular-season championships.
Taylor, who played at Alabama, was Landers' top assistant when he retired.
Four-time Olympian Teresa Edwards was one of many former players who returned
to cheer Georgia's 66-62 win over Tennessee on Sunday. Edwards said she wants
Taylor to surpass milestones reached by Landers, because Georgia is looking for
its first national championship.
"I think her impact is coming," Edwards said. "Anybody following Andy has a
challenge. At the same time we didn't get to the mountaintop so we left plenty
of room for Joni to grow. I think in her short period of time she's working
really hard to change that culture back to what we built, back to the winning
Taylor led Georgia to a 26-7 record and 12-4 finish in the SEC last season,
including the second round of the NCAA tournament . She was given a raise to
$750,000 per year on a new contract through 2024.
Georgia was ranked No. 14 in the preseason Top 25 but fell out of the Top 25
with losses in November to UCLA , Georgia Tech and Maryland. The win over
Tennessee was important in the Lady Bulldogs' resurgence, especially following
a close loss at No. 7 Mississippi State.
Georgia (12-5, 3-1 SEC) has won six of seven entering Thursday's game at
Taylor's goal is to keep coaching as long as possible next month and then
return for the end of the regular season and the SEC tournament scheduled to
begin on March 6 in Greenville, South Carolina. As was the case two years ago,
associate head coach Karen Lange will be the interim head coach while Taylor is
"If I have a smooth delivery this time around the way I did the first time, I
plan to be back as soon as possible to finish the season before taking some
time off," she said.
Taylor said she has strong support from her husband, her parents --- who are
spending much time at the Taylors' home --- and athletic director Greg McGarity.
Before Jaci's birth two years ago, Taylor felt it necessary to provide McGarity
reassurance she had a plan while away from the team. She said she offered
McGarity's then-top assistant Carla Williams, now Virginia's athletic director,
a written schedule.
"She was like 'I don't need this,'" Taylor said of Williams. "I said what do
you mean? She said 'Greg and I are fully confident you have a plan in place or
we would not have hired you, period. So you hold onto that. We don't need to
see it. We have confidence in you.'"
Those words from Williams, who played and coached under Landers at Georgia
before becoming an administrator, provided comfort Taylor said she still
"When you have that kind of support from the top down, it puts you at ease and
makes you feel good about where you are coming into work each day," she said.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and